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Teaching Writing & Critical Thinking

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on 8 June 2014

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Transcript of Teaching Writing & Critical Thinking

Allows student to design and develop his/her own project with guidance

- Student are more invested in the work if it is something they choose
- Less plagiarism
- Teacher helps student develop writing process
- Teacher can help revise bad ideas and assist wayward students
Critical Thinking/Analysis Skills

- Think about/discuss readings (How? Why? "What is your opinion?")
- Think about what is interesting to them/why?
- Think about their opinion and how to support it
- Think about their own writing process
- Think about other people's writing and how help them
- Think about revision
- Listening to teacher's comments; Revising ("How/why did I revise?")

- Each step is worth more points
- Grading is holistic, not exam-based
- Critical thinking is embedded in each piece
- Students are trained in peer review, transferring knowledge about strong writing to their own project
Students can't leave everything to the last minute
Focus on the How/Why? questions (NOT "What?")
"What?" questions lead to a summary, not an analysis
"How/Why?" questions force analysis and focus on the students' opinions
Look for multiple answers; don't settle for ONE response
Students must support their opinion, not just offer an answer to the teacher's question
Grading Student Work
Use a rubric
and give to students
Look for error patterns
Look for thesis
Look for support paragraph
Look at intro and conclusion
Write comments
/how/why questions in the margins
Write holistic note to student
at the end:

Star, Wish, Wish, Star
Thesis and Support
Discuss readings in
class, but students cannot write about class discussion; they must write something NEW
Student must start with a How/Why? question
-The answer to the How/Why question is their "thesis statement" (or thesis)
Assignment is a TED talk video on "shame" and corresponding news article about the TED talk author
A student's "How/why?" question
could be, "Why does shame both hurt and help us?"
Student's opinion/answer =
"Shame hurts us by causing embarassment, but by reflecting on our actions, we become better people." This is the student's THESIS STATEMENT
Thesis statement is typically the last sentence in the introductory paragraph
Supports follow the thesis.
There are three parts to a support paragraph: Topic sentence, Example, Explanation of example.
Students learn best with specific feedback about their problems

Allow students to revise from your comments
Note your "wishes" about what they need to do in your grade book

Grade them down if they keep repeating the same errors
Common Errors
Thesis is too general.

Example: "Shame is a part of everyone's life." How/Why is shame a part of everyone's life?
Revised thesis: "We experience shame both from our families and from the culture.
Scaffolded Assignments
Teaching the Fundamentals of Writing and Critical Thinking
Specific Feedback Matters
Teaching Writing & Critical Thinking
Typical Scaffolded Assignment:

1) Assign short reading(s) that provoke opinions
2) Assign short Critical Response Paper
3) Grade and return response papers
4) Assign project proposal
5) Assign bibliography of three sources (students must turn in copies of sources with bibliography)
6) Assign draft
7) Peer review of draft with rubric
8) Revised Final project due
9) Grade and return (with rubric)
10) Student revises from teacher comments for portfolio
Thesis is for a report/summary, not an analysis/opinion.

Example: "There are several kinds of shame."
Revised thesis: "Filial piety is most often taught by parents through shame and guilt."
Keyboard vomit:
student does not organize or think before he/she writes.
Support paragraphs:
missing elements, thin examples, or no explanation of how/why the support relates to thesis.
Prepositions, verb agreement, and overuse of dictionary:
To internalize the language, students must read, listen to, speak, and write.

Doing drills and exercises does NOT teach language.
Revision is NOT proofreading/editing
Add/strengthen supports
Add research
Add rebuttals
Now Let's Try It:
- Assignment = TED video/article on shame
- Short paper critical response (after discussion)
- Defining the rubric
-Grading the paper
Margin comments
Editing marks
Error patterns
Star, Wish, Wish, Star
Teaching Critical Thinking and Writing
- Focus on analysis:

Who is the Audience? What is the Context? What is the Purpose?
- Ensuring students can think critically
about complex ideas
- Asking the how/why questions repeatedly

to get various possible answers
- Students can transfer the audience/context/purpose skills
to any writing assignment/speech/project (resume, letter, email, speech, job interview, report, ppt)
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